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11.06.2004 General News

Kiki Gyan’s Last Days …‘Stay Away From Drugs’,‘Guard Against Women’

By h Masaekele & Forjoe
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Kiki Gyan, Hugh Masaekele & Forjoe On the eve of a significant anniversary last Sunday, indeed exactly one hour to his 47th birthday, a sickly and weary Kofi Kwarko (Kiki) Gyan felt the normal abdominal compulsion to attend to nature's call.Kiki Gyan staggered on jelly legs into the washroom of his adopted home at Eden Revival Church at Kokomlemle in Accra. In there, he position himself on the WC but 30 minutes of dead silence, followed by five minutes of unanswered banging on the door, forced a closed pal and fellow church member to force the door open.Horror of horror, there sat the lifeless body of one of the most talented keyboardist of our generation.It was a tragic but peaceful end to a life so complicated in its twists and turns that it would still have defied comprehension even if that life was not lived but only imagined as fiction. It was nature's way of giving rest to a tortured soul.Kiki had checked into the Eden Church, through the efforts of a concerned friend and in pursuit of spiritual refuge from the demons of drugs and disease.It turned out to be the final proof that Kiki's destiny was sealed and that since he lacked the inner will alter it, all the external attempts at his salvation had come to nought.“The real substances for change are internal, external conditions are only agents” said one of the many physicians who tried to save him.Efforts at saving Kiki had seen him go through many rehabilitations efforts. He was a regular inmate at both Accra and Patang Psychiatric hospital, where the top men at both hospitals, where the top men at both hospitals, Dr. Asare and Dr. Samuel Allotey took special interest in him.He also paid regular visits to Rhema Rehabilitations Centre and Dr. Annan's Valley View Clinic at Dzorwulu before South African trumpeter Hugh Masakella organised a trip for him to South Africa for another attempt at Kiki Gyan's redemption.After all these attempts and many more, some spiritual, others medical, one thing remained constant in Kiki Gyan's' life.Anytime he sneaked out (and that is exactly what he did most of the time) of a rehab centre, the street reclaimed its hero with the same speed that he rose to the top of world music as master of the keyboard. At the peak of his genius, 'Hit Music Magazine' ranked Kiki Gyan number eight among the world's topmost keyboardists. And there was a statistical basis for that credible conclusion.In the late 70s, then out of Osibisa and performing as a solo artiste. Kiki Gyan's name appeared as the keyboardist on four of the top 10 hits of the November 1979 chart.He recorded, performed and toured with only the chart busters including Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Hugh Masakela and the Third World.It is a matter of public record that by his 19th birthday, Kiki Gyan was worth £5million. From a secondary school drop out, wealth overwhelmed the Takoradi boy so much so that he chattered a plane to the Bahamas to celebrate one of his birthdays. He vibrated with talent, knew taste and lived a life that was lavish and aristocratic even by the standard of those who invented those terms, although some still doubt the source of his wealth.For any one who never saw at full blast, it would require extraordinary literary wits to craft words that would capture his real genius. But for those who lived his talent and shows, grief was later to replace the cheers.The Kiki, who later emerged in the streets of Accra, was a pathetic shadow of the flamboyant keyboard grandmaster. His looks, wealth, even clothes and homes, everything he had, friends (girls and boys), he had lost all.The once pleasant personality was now a scary personification of excruciating hunger and poverty; his body ravaged by cocaine and tuberculosis.He blamed it on unscrupulous friends, still living in the comfort of Accra, who claimed hoodwinked him, took his money, traded with it in drugs and multiplied it hundreds of times over but never paid back.What didn't desert him was the talent, which he displayed at small gigs at Bus Stop. By well and other drinking bars and later at church events.His last big show was with Osibisa, the band that earned his fame, at their grand homecoming shows in Accra and Kumasi, where he earned the loudest of ovations.Tradition has it that no evil is said of the dead. Not with Kiki.Days before he gave up the fight, he spoke his own evil to those who were close to him enough to hear, apologies to God and all those he had disappointed and asked for forgiveness.And his parting words to all: “Stay away from drugs and beware of women.”

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